BBB National Programs Archive

CARU Recommends LEGO Modify Future Advertising for ‘Pirate Ship Ambush’ to Better Disclose What Comes with Initial Purchase

New York, NY – Dec. 5, 2013, 2013 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit has recommended that LEGO Systems, Inc., modify future advertising for the “Lord of the Rings Pirate Ship Ambush” to make clear which products come with the initial purchase.

CARU is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Broadcast advertising for the product came to the attention of CARU through CARU’s ongoing monitoring of advertising directed to children.

In this case, CARU had to determine whether children could be misled by viewing a 30-second commercial that featured the LEGO Lord of the Rings Pirate Ship depicted alongside several mini-figurines that were not included in an initial purchase of the advertised playset.

After reviewing the commercial, CARU determined that the commercial did not clearly communicate what comes with the initial purchase of the playset. Instead, CARU found that one message conveyed to the child audience was that the playset included more product than it actually did.

Although CARU acknowledged that it is not uncommon in children’s advertising to show additional items that are sold separately, in order to avoid confusion, CARU has consistently required advertisers to clearly disclose which products must be purchased separately like accessories or individual items in a collection. Because there were no disclosures clarifying what was included with the playset, CARU held that a child could reasonably believe that all of the product shown is included with the playset.

The LEGO Group, in its advertiser’s statement, said it “appreciates the ongoing efforts of CARU to ensure appropriate advertising to children, and as a CARU member since its’ inception, we fully support these endeavors and make every effort to ensure our advertising conforms to the CARU Guidelines.

“We will continue to keep CARU’s concerns and guidelines in mind as we develop new commercials, as always,” the company said.